Weather Forecast


New Bent Paddle taproom coming early 2018; production to grow

A rendering of the new Bent Paddle Brewing Co. taproom set to open early next year at 1832 W. Michigan St., a block from the existing taproom. Photo courtesy of Bent Paddle1 / 2
A rendering of the new Bent Paddle Brewing Co. taproom planned at 1832 W. Michigan St., which will also feature experimental beers brewed on-site at a new seven-barrel pilot brewery. Photo courtesy of Bent Paddle2 / 2

Bent Paddle Brewing Co. has already grown to be the sixth-largest brewery in the state since opening in 2013. But why stop there?

The Lincoln Park brewery shared its plans this week for a new taproom, a new small-scale pilot brewhouse and a doubling of its production area, all of which is already underway.

"Due to the needs of production and the increased customer demand within the current taproom we do not have the ability to physically grow the taproom in the current space," Bent Paddle cofounder Karen Tonnis said in a news release. "The best solution was to move the taproom to a beautiful new location one block from the brewery."

Early next year the taproom will move from 1912 W. Michigan St., where brewery operations will remain, to the company's offices down the street at 1832 W. Michigan St.

The taproom under construction at the former Enger & Olson Furniture building will fit 70 people and also feature a pet-friendly patio, performance area, fireplace, kids' nook and much more open space than the current location affords. No date is set for an opening.

"The space itself will have distinct areas that offer our guests different levels of experience that we hope highlight all those different situations where you may enjoy our beer in everyday life or simply to come in and shake off the trail," taproom manager Pepin Young said in the news release. Bent Paddle is working with Wagner Zaun, Shelter Architecture and Gardner Builders on the project.

A new seven-barrel brewery will also join the new taproom. That's partly to try experimental beers in small batches and offer taproom-only brews and partly to comply with state laws governing how breweries sell their beer.

Breweries around the state will no doubt be watching Bent Paddle as they consider expansions of their own, at the very least to keep pace with the Duluth brewery's growth.

By 2020, the brewery plans to double its production area from 10,000 to 20,000 square feet, growing into the building at 1832 W. Michigan St. the company purchased this summer.

Having brewed 15,600 barrels in 2016 — that's nearly half a million gallons, or about 60,450 pints — Bent Paddle expects to pass 20,000 barrels per year before the end of the decade.

Once that threshold is passed it would mean no more growler sales, again because of state laws stating who can and can't fill the half-gallon reusable beer containers.

Business will continue on as normal in the meantime, and an opening date will be announced early next year for the new taproom, which will also allow outside food and not host a kitchen of its own.

The News Tribune first reported on the brewery's application to move its liquor license last week and noted schematics submitted to the city for the new taproom earlier this year.

Brooks Johnson

Brooks is an investigative/enterprise reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.

(218) 723-5329